6 Tips for Staying Energized Throughout the Work Day November 01 2016
You know that drop in energy that inevitably happens about mid-afternoon every day? You’ve had your lunch, you’re just over half way to the end of the work day, and suddenly your eyelids get that dreaded heavy feeling and you feel you could really use a chocolate bar or a giant latte to pick you back up again, or even contemplate packing it in early for a nap date with your cozy bed. Believe it or not, this is normal. Our energy level naturally drops at night before bed, as well as in the afternoon, but there are a few surefire ways of beating this dip in energy in the afternoon, and staying alert and motivated until day’s end!
I know, it seems like this is the answer to every problem that ever existed. But it kind of is! Our bodies are made up of almost 60% water, so keeping this replenished is essential for a vast array of bodily functions to perform efficiently, including our energy and brain function.
- Lay off the Booze
Ok, so everything in moderation… we know the holidays are coming! However, alcohol is a huge dehydrator and also impacts our quality of sleep. These two factors combined are a deadly combo for your energy level, skin, and brain function. Try to cut down on alcohol consumption where you can and you’ll guaranteed feel a difference. Even if you just make a deal with yourself to not touch a drop during the weekdays, this will be a start.
- Eat a Wholesome Breakfast
They’re not kidding when they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day! But you should also pay attention to what you’re eating for breakfast. Filling up on crap that will cause your blood sugar level to spike and then crash will have the same effect on your energy. Try to eat foods with complex carbohydrates and ample protein so you’ll feel satisfied longer and have a sustained release of energy throughout the day.
- Have a Light Lunch
As the old saying goes, eat like a King for breakfast, a Prince for lunch, and a Peasant for dinner. Filling up on a large, rich lunch will focus your energy on digestion and give you a sense of inertia in the afternoon. Allow your brain juices to function properly without being distracted by digesting a massive lunch! Steer clear of heavy carbs and go for options like salads and soups with light protein for energy.
- Take Regular Walk Breaks
More and more studies are coming out about how sitting all day long is a silent killer! Our bodies were made to move, so if you’re working behind a desk it’s crucial for both your mental and physical health to take regular walk breaks to get your blood flowing and muscles moving, and to get a bit of fresh air. This will also wake you up, making you feel refreshed and rejuvenated and give you a second wind. If your boss is a stickler about your hours in the office, make the effort to come in a bit early so you can allow yourself these breaks throughout the day, it’s worth it. Another hot new trend- walking meetings! Run it by the boss under the heading of “workplace health and wellness”, they might just love the idea.
- Remember Sugar is Not Your Friend.
While it’s human nature to opt for the “quick fix,” especially when we’re crunched for time, it’s important to think about the end result. Sure, sugar is the quickest way to achieve a spike in energy, but the crash afterward will leave you feeling even worse than you did in the first place. When you start getting that familiar sweet craving mid-afternoon, recognize it as your body signaling dehydration or hunger, or perhaps a lack of movement causing drowsiness. Take a quick walk outside and grab a bottle of water, or grab a healthy snack like some carrots and celery. Whatever you do, say no to the chocolate bar!
5 Simple Ballet Moves that Will Tone Your Body All Over! October 02 2016
While ballerinas may look dainty and delicate, don’t be fooled by their slender, waif like exterior. These dancers are strong oxes, and their bodies can withstand an amazing amount of pressure. Ballet, when done correctly, appears to be graceful and easy... but it’s a heck of a lot harder than it looks! Ballet works nearly all muscles in the body, it’s a very all-encompassing workout. It requires core strength, balance, and endurance. From holding posture and grace through lengthy, exhausting performances to displaying impeccable balance and stamina, ballet dancer’s bodies are some of the strongest, most well-toned bodies from head to toe. Try these 5 moves to help get that “toned all over” lean ballet physique.
1. The Grand Plie
This classic ballet move involves keeping your body aligned while slowly bending the knees. Be sure to keep your heels on the floor for as long as you are able to. Once you have bent your knees as far as you can go, slowly straighten your legs and return to first position. The Plie is great for strengthening and toning the thighs and the butt!
2. Single Leg Releve
Whilst standing on one leg, slowly lift and lower the other heel, tapping the floor with your toe. This engages your calf and tones the butt as well.
3. Stretch on the Barre
Raise one leg to the side and place it on the bar (in “a la seconde position”). Then you’re your body forward and away from the raised leg. This will stretch the hamstrings as well as the sides of the body.
Starting in fifth position, slide both feet equally out to second position. Make sure that your toes don’t lose contact with the floor as you lift your heels up to change positions. This will strengthen and tone your legs and calves.
5. Plank Hip Dips
Start by getting yourself into plank position, with your elbows and toes touching the ground and suspending your body. Then try dipping your hips to each side as far as you can toward the floor. This is amazing for building core strength and toning the obliques!
Athleisure- A Passing Fad or a Lifestyle Trend That’s Here to Stay? September 06 2016
The “sporty spice” look has been having a major moment lately! Not only are an abundance of trendy Activewear labels popping up everywhere, but even high fashion labels more commonly known for their chic, upscale apparel have been featuring a more laid back, sporty spin on their trademark look. Some have even partnered up with a known and loved fitness brands to create some awesome athletic yet streetwear-worthy hybrids. This growingly popular movement has been coined “Athleisure,” and does not seem to be merely a passing fad but a lasting lifestyle trend that involves an increased focus on health and wellness, which we see as a pretty positive thing!
By combining high fashion and sportswear brands, you get a fusion of elevated style and versatility, which is much more appealing to a wider demographic. It’s ready to wear and doesn’t just look good on the runway, and also has the quality and precision in its technical design to last longer and allow for a little movement. Basically, Athleisure gives you the durability that real life requires, while still placing emphasis on the aesthetic appeal of the clothing. Let’s face it- a silk slip dress looks great when you step out the door, but after running around in 30 degree weather all day and sitting through meeting after meeting you’ll have sweat stains and wrinkles in no time.
This new “Athleisure” style makes it comfortable for the modern woman or man to live their active lifestyle without too much interruption, having to lug around a huge sports bag or head home to change between events. There’s also a mental piece to it- if you’re looking the part, you’re bound to feel more motivated to actually do something active. The clothes themselves are so comfortable that it makes your daily motions easy and carefree, which no doubt has a positive impact on your overall mood as well. There’s an emphasis on comfort, while keeping style in mind. It is finally possible to dress comfortably without looking frumpy!
To name a few notable examples of these “Athleisure” brand fusions, Adidas x Stella McCartney have produced a fabulous collaboration of sporty wares that are totally street worthy, and a personal fave is the Cushnie et Ochs x Bandier collection that is oh so hot right now. Atheleta and Derek Lam also got together to create an amazing line of athletic inspired looks that would be appropriate both during and after any fitness class. Balmain has decided to keep it in house, creating their own drool-worthy collection of sportswear that is definitely also lunch date friendly!
In addition to these designer/sportswear collaborations, we have seen a few celebrity style icons lending their names to the craze, such as Kate Hudson with her affordable new Fabletics line.
Kanye West’s Yeezy Line is also packed with simple, sporty sweatshirts, baseball caps and tees that look athletic with a cool urban twist.
Beyonce’s stylish “Ivy Park” athletic wear line is holding its own without tying itself to any other sportswear brand. Rihanna is also making waves with her fierce Fenty x Puma collaborated collection.
What do you think of this new “Athleisure” lifestyle and look? We are ALL about it!
4 Ways that Travelling the World Will Nourish Your Soul August 05 2016
Particularly in Western society, as we grow up and take on more and more responsibility like full time careers and families it gets easier and easier to tell ourselves we can’t afford to take the time out of our busy lives to travel, to see the world, to be carefree and experience new things. Our society teaches us that work comes first, and that personal time and enjoyment is reward for hard work. While these are good values to live by, it is important to remember to regularly nourish the soul, not just the body. Travel is something that everyone should value and experience, as much as we value our own physical health. It feeds the soul, and is good for the mind, body and spirit. Here are four solid reasons you should take the time to travel at some point in your life, and really experience all that other cultures and countries have to offer. Whether you take some time to explore the world on your own, or have your family in tow, make it happen!
- It broadens your perspective on life.
It’s hard to realize how much of a sheltered bubble we actually live in until we have properly stepped out of it. Placing yourself in new surroundings forces you to step out of your comfort zone, cross paths with people you normally wouldn’t, learn how other cultures live in comparison to yours, and most importantly that your way of life isn’t the only one! Living in North America, it can often feel like we’re the center of the universe, however there are so many other cultures out there that live quite differently based on cultural or religious values, or sometimes on the necessities of their climate and the state of their economy. While western society is generally considered one of the most advanced on a world scale, there is always more to learn from other cultures, and room for improvement in our own personal lives.
Contrastingly, sometimes viewing the poverty, struggles and corruption of third world countries is a necessary eye opener that makes us realize how blessed we are to live where we do and have the opportunity to live a comfortable, safe and healthy life. Basically, travelling both broadens our perspective on life and makes us more grateful for what we have.
- You will Learn about new cultural experiences, cuisines and traditions.
Now for the fun part- the cultural experience! As much as you might love the in and out burger and hitting the club on Saturday night, American cuisine and culture can be unhealthy and bland in comparison to the world of spice and flavor you will find abroad! Test your limits and try everything, you will no doubt discover new dishes and experiences that you never thought you’d be into! A cultured palette is a great thing to bring to the table (literally) on any date or business dinner as well, just saying. Plus, a girl or guy who can salsa? Talk about fire. Knowing about different types of foods, wines and cultural practices immediately makes you seem worldly and interesting, and gives you more to offer in any given relationship or conversation.
- You will learn a ton about yourself.
One majorly undervalued result of traveling is not the knowledge you bring back about the rest of the world, but how much you learn about yourself while exploring it. Testing your limits by putting yourself in unfamiliar (and sometimes uncomfortable) settings or scenarios, you will be forced to trust yourself and learn a lot about who you are, what you are capable of, and what your likes and dislikes are. You will also find yourself befriending people more easily, often people from different walks of life that you would never normally cross paths with, let alone befriend. Travelling forces us to put ourselves out there, it makes us more confident and outgoing, and above all it teaches us about self-reliance and courage.
- If offers an opportunity to meet likeminded people from different walks of life.
Some of the deepest, most influential relationships are born while travelling. The traveler has a certain mindset, a certain willingness to learn and expand one’s horizons, so those we meet on this path often teach us more than those we have known our entire lives. We are more open minded and accepting of people’s differences, which allows us to overlook things that would normally deter us from forging unexpected friendships. The bonds made while on the road are stronger, and being out of your regular routine and on a path of self-exploration together forms some of the deepest, most meaningful bonds.
So quit making excuses! Just pick up and go. Document every special moment. Enjoy it- the experience will make you feel more alive than ever, and the memories will last for a lifetime.
The Fitness Tracker- Does It Really Work? July 26 2016
For better or for worse, our society is becoming increasingly obsessed with weight loss and physical appearance. More specifically, we are obsessed with controlling everything that goes in and out of our bodies, and knowing exactly how much is consumed vs. how much is burned on a daily basis. As such, more and more tools and devices are being created to help us track these metrics, which, in my opinion, can become a dangerous game that leads to obsession. Though it is important from a health perspective to stay active and exercise regularly, the line between health maintenance and obsession is too commonly crossed these days.
Fitness tracking bracelets (most commonly known as “the Fitbit” although this is just one particular brand) are all the rage right now. The Fitbit is an accessory (worn as a bracelet) that tracks your daily movement and calories burned. It seems like everyone and their mother are walking around with one of these fitness measuring devices- counting their steps, tracking their weight loss. But here in lies the misconception. It is not necessarily weight LOSS that the Fitbit is tracking, but burned calories. Weight loss is dependent on a combination of calories consumed vs. calories burned. So, the question is- are people really losing weight? Or is this yet another device to help us obsess over every workout missed, every calorie consumed, without any real benefit?
The problem with the Fitbit, is that it doesn’t actually track your caloric intake, and puts all of the focus on exercise. Naturally, effective and sustainable weight loss relies on a combination of a regular workout regimen and a healthy, reduced calorie diet. In plain English- you have to burn more than you consume to actually lose weight. By putting the focus solely on exercise, one might neglect the importance of diet and calories consumed by over-focusing on calories burned. That’s not to say that this device is totally useless. It is helpful to know how much we’re burning, but also to be mindful of what we consume. Basically, it is important to make the following distinction when investing in a Fitbit: this not a device that makes us lose weight, it is a device that makes weight loss easier, by giving us knowledge about how much we are burning.
To effectively lose weight, it’s more about a lifestyle. Getting super specific and counting calories eaten vs. burned is a slippery slope- it’s really not that important to be exact, as long as you are seeing results. You can use a fitness measuring device to help you keep track of your progress, but it’s important to remember that this information is only giving you one of the tools you need toward your end goal. So long as you are being consistent in your regimen, and burning a relative amount more than you consume, you will likely see results. If you aren’t, then just cut back on meal portions or increase your cardio. That simple.
For those of us without a cottage to escape to every weekend, or kids old enough to head off to Summer Camp, those long summer months can be a bit of a daunting time. The heat, the long days with kids to entertain and keep busy... you know the story. Well, we know it’s easy to start running out of ideas so we’re here to help! Summer is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy some quality time with your little ones, and we’ve got some great activities to try so that your whole family stays active, busy and happy together!
Okay, so this may involve a little drive if you are city folk, but it will be worth it! Get your beepers up at the crack of dawn and piled into the car, and take a trip out to the nearest lake! Though it’s not the most active of pastimes, fishing is calming, relaxing and rewarding, and allows you some quiet, quality time with your kids. Sitting together in a safe and serene setting and encouraging reflection and sharing will no doubt have a therapeutic effect for all of you. Plus, a little healthy competition is always good amongst siblings… who will catch the biggest fish?
Camp Out in the Back Yard
This one doesn’t involve any road trips! All you need is a tent or two, some sleeping bags, marshmallows and some kindling for the fire. This is a great intro to camping for young ones who aren’t quite ready to spend a full night in the real woods, and makes for really fun family bonding. Teach your kids to pitch a tent, build a fire, and any of the other skills they’ll need on a real camping trip. Then, show them some of the age old camping experiences, like s’mores and stories around the fire! An added bonus? This is a pretty inexpensive way to create an amazing memory for your family.
Plant a Garden
What better way to teach your kids about nurturing and caring for something than to have them plant a garden and see the plants through from seed to blossom? This is a fun way to bond with your kids, get them outdoors and moving around in the sunshine, and also to get them involved in a little housework without making it feel like a chore! Let them pick a few of their favourite things, whether its flowers and plants or a vegetable garden, and involve them in every step of the process from planting and caring for them to enjoying the (literal) fruits of their labour!
Have a Water Gun War
Want to really tire them out? Divide the family up into teams and have a water gun war! This is particularly great as the kids start to get a little older and have a ton of energy to burn! (If you’re opposed to water guns, you can always fill some balloons with water!) This activity will build team spirit, encourage family bonding and have them running around outdoors and getting a fantastic amount of cardio without even realizing it! Plus, once again, a little friendly competition never hurt anyone. Who’s got the best aim? Our bet’s on mom.
Go Paddle Boating
If you don’t have a cottage with a vast lake and a boat at your immediate disposal, paddle-boating is a great alternative. This activity gets you and the kids active out on the water, and can be done at the lake or even in your local park pond. Paddle boats are usually easy to find and available for rent, so why not try one out for the weekend? They’re also suitable for all ages and experience levels, so you can take the little ones too. Just don’t forget your lifejackets and whistles!
Now that you’re equipped with some fun ideas, we hope you have a blast trying some of these activities out with your kids this summer!
Acro Yoga- 5 Reasons Everyone Should Try It! May 31 2016
In case you’re not familiar, Acro Yoga is that beautiful practice that involves a graceful symbiosis between partners. When done correctly, it looks like a calculated dance of twisting and tangling of body parts, and a balanced lifting of one another in symmetry that appears light as air and effortless. You’ve no doubt seen hundreds of beautiful pictures of Acro Yoga all over Pinterest and the internet, it’s a hot search item for yoga inspiration. More specifically, Acro is a practice that combines yoga, healing arts and acrobatics. These three practices are of equal importance, and are thought by Acro enthusiasts to perfectly balance each other out. There are two parts of Acro Yoga, and in order to understand the full practice and the relationship between them each person must explore both sides to discover where their true passion lies.
Acrobatic (Solar)- Consists of three roles, the Base or “mover”, the Flyer or person being moved, or the Spotter which consists of both.
Therapeutic (Lunar)- This person embraces the healing connection and projects loving kindness. They are the giver in the partnership.
Still not convinced that Acro Yoga’s for you? Here are 5 pretty solid reasons why everyone should give it a try!
It Builds Trust and Partnership Skills
In acro yoga, you learn to support others, and in turn you learn to allow others to support you. Acro yoga forces you to trust your body, as well as your partner entirely. The practice involves physically moving another person and vice versa, which requires both total engagement and complete release at times. You will learn to take control by letting go.
It Fosters Effective Communication
While most types of yoga involve a mind body connection within yourself, Acro Yoga requires you to effectively communicate with your partner. You are not only sharing a physical experience, but a mental one as well. If you don’t work together by physically trusting one another and efficiently communicating verbally, you will fall apart. This is a beneficial skill to have in all areas of life, particularly in partnerships and relationships.
Anyone Can Do It
Most people assume this style of Yoga is extremely difficult, or that only partners of complimentary sizes or skill levels can participate. This is not true! Acro Yoga focuses on technique more heavily than strength, so, contrary to popular belief, really anyone can participate.
Enhances Existing Relationships or Helps Form Meaningful Connections with New People
Whether you want to try Acro with an existing partner or friend, or give it a try with a new partner you’ve just met, this practice is an amazing way to foster deep connections based on trust and communication.
It Creates a Sense of Community, Tribe and Celebration
Being a shared experience rather than a personal journey like most forms of yoga, Acro Yoga creates a real sense of community and celebration unlike any other that stems from exploring your limits and pushing your boundaries as well as your partners.
We hope you are feeling inspired to grab a partner and check out an Acro Yoga class soon. You will be surprised at your own strength and ability to trust another if you are open to the process!
Cardio by definition is any form of movement that increases heart rate and blood circulation throughout the body. Our bodies are made to move, yet so many of us today have jobs that force us to remain stationery for hours at a time. Cardio, for many, has become a dreaded word. An ominous entity that is to be feared and avoided at all costs! However, cardio doesn’t have to be super intense or intimidating. There are many ways to get your daily cardio in, so it’s important to find a way that is enjoyable for you. Whether it’s running on the treadmill at the gym, or going for a nice long power walk, bike ride or run outside, it’s really important to make time for cardiovascular exercise. Many people tie cardio and weight loss together, as it is the quickest way to burn calories which translates to loss of fat. However, cardio has a ton of other health benefits, which makes it equally as important for those who don’t have losing weight at the top of their priority list. Here are a few notable health benefits of performing regular cardiovascular exercise.
Improved Heart Health
It’s important to think of the heart like any other muscle. Not working it properly can cause it to weaken over time, which can result in serious long term health problems. Like all muscles, the heart needs to be exercised to grow stronger. Cardio gets the heart pumping faster and harder, and on a regular basis will keep it in shape and healthy.
Increased Metabolic Rate
Just as it speeds up your heart rate, cardio also improves other bodily functions, such as your metabolism. The more intense the session, the more your metabolic rate will improve. HIIT (high intensity interval training) is particularly effective in speeding up your metabolism. This helps to maintain your weight or lose extra pounds by allowing the body to burn off excess calories faster.
Improved Hormonal Balance
Regular cardio also changes your body’s hormonal profile. Cardio releases endorphins and “feel good” hormones that eliminate symptoms of depression and can help to decrease the appetite. Basically, regular cardio is a huge natural stress reliever, and it’s way cheaper than therapy!
Enhanced Recovery Rate
Cardio can decrease the body’s recovery time too, for instance after an intense strength training or lifting session, doing a bit of light cardio will help bring more oxygenated blood to the muscle tissue, which will reduce muscle soreness and improve the repair & rebuilding process. This naturally allows you to get back to your routine more quickly, so you can continue working those muscles and building additional strength!
Other important benefits of regular cardio include:
Increased Bone Density
Reduced Risk of Cancer & Heart Disease
Improved Quality of Sleep
Increased Energy Level
Just getting started? Begin by building up your cardio base and endurance, then dial up the intensity. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, we should aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio 5 days a week, or 20 minutes of intense cardio at least 3 times a week. If your goal is to lose weight, you may want to up this to 60-90 minutes per day. Generally speaking though, when increasing your limits, focus on increasing the intensity of the workout rather the volume, unless you’re training specifically for a long distance event like a marathon.
Basically, performing regular cardiovascular exercise not only helps you burn calories and look lean and mean, but improves your overall quality of life. It enhances your overall mood, and will make you feel as good as the inside as you look on the outside! So next time you're dreading the treadmill, try to think of cardio as friend, not foe!
In Western Society, it’s all about a “lean and mean” physique, especially for the ladies. As a result, most women avoid weights and strength training in fear of putting extra bulk on their frames. Cardio based workouts tend to be more popular amongst women, resulting in a serious neglect of the important strength building aspect of exercise. The trick is to find a balance between cardio and strength building by combining the two in one fluid form of exercise. Here are a couple of ways you can use your own body weight and movement to condition and strengthen muscles, and improve cardiovascular strength and endurance.
HIIT/ Circuit Training
People often think that we have to use intimidating strength building machines or lift weights to build muscle, but this is a common misconception. Using your body weight and movement to achieve this actually provides a much better and more balanced workout. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is rapidly increasing in popularity, especially amongst the ladies, as it provides an intense, full body workout by using just your own body weight in a strategic series of fluid movements. HIIT by definition means working out at a moderate intensity for two minutes and then pushing your body to the limit for one, then repeating with little rest between movements. Circuit training is a great combo of cardio and strength training, as opposed to singular weight training which only targets certain areas to build isolated strength. (Ex. Bicep curls, bench pressing, lat pull-downs, etc.) Also, as there is no machinery involved in HIIT, you can transition more rapidly from one movement to another.
HIIT entails progressing through a series of movements such as squats, lunges and knee lifts. Often people use props such as kettle bells and ropes in their circuit training as well to continue pushing their boundaries. This fluid range of motion not only helps with flexibility (allowing your joints to move more freely) but it builds core strength, helps with posture, back strength, endurance, and burns fat like crazy! You will also develop better balance through control and awareness of your body. The best part about this form of exercise is that there is a ton of variety in the movements and exercises you can do. You can always switch it up which helps keep you motivated to push your boundaries and break plateaus. Oh, and since it’s free and can be done anywhere, there’s little room for excuses! Check out this article by Shape magazine for some more in depth instructions on HIIT.
TRX (Suspension) Training.
This form of exercise also doesn’t involve any heavy duty machinery, and can be done anywhere, anytime. TRX exercises use gravity and your body weight to build strength, flexibility, core stability and balance. There are hundreds of exercises you can do with this portable equipment, to strengthen and condition all parts of the body. You can attach the TRX ropes to any anchor point (monkey bars, a door frame, etc.) but you can also usually find them attached to the wall somewhere at your local gym. For more info on TRX training or to order the equipment, check out their site. https://www.trxtraining.com/suspension-training
So don’t be afraid of a little muscle! Now you have all the tools you need to build up your strength, and maintain that lean physique you’ve worked so hard to achieve! After all, strong is the new skinny. ;)
7 Super-Foods you Should Eat for a Better Workout! March 15 2016
It’s no secret that diet is even more important than exercise in one’s health and fitness regimen, and a proper combination of the two is essential particularly when looking for toning and weight loss results. Incorporating the following foods as a regular part of your diet will give you varying benefits such as elevated energy or improved dexterity, and will also help you achieve your desired physical results much faster!
Many of us shy away with anything overly fatty, particularly those of us watching our waistlines. However, there is such a thing as “healthy fats” which are actually good for us AND beneficial in maintaining our weight and overall health. Avocados are a perfect example of a super food high in “healthy fats.” They contain cholesterol lowering mono-saturated fats that help keep your body strong, and free of pain. Studies have proven that those who eat a diet with restricted fat (less than 31%) have weakened muscles and joints and are therefore more prone to injury. Eating just a few slices of avocado each day is a healthy (and delicious) way to ensure you are consuming enough of the right kinds of fats to maintain your body’s strength and durability, without bulking up.
Packed with energizing carbs and potassium, bananas are a great way to replenish the salts and electrolytes lost through excessive sweating. Potassium helps with muscle cramping and fluid absorption, making this fruit the perfect healthy before or after workout snack!
Carrots are full of complex carbohydrates that energize the muscles, as well as potassium which helps to control blood pressure and muscle contractions. Plus, they are refreshingly crunchy and delicious!
Dark poultry like chicken thighs or turkey drumsticks have the same juicy, rich impact as dark meat, as well as the iron, zinc and vitamin b’s as red meat, with less of the fat. A diet lacking in Iron or Zinc can cause one to feel fatigued, and naturally have less than stellar workout results, so this food is a perfect way to pack in the nutrients!
This low fat, low cal snack is packed with all the protein, complex carbs and non-saturated fats we need to fuel a solid workout. Pair it with your carrots and you have a delightful, light, energy boosting snack!
Not only does salmon improve heart health, recent studies have suggested that regular consumption of Omega 3 fats (which salmon is rich in) could be linked to lower abdominal fat, which is particularly beneficial for those working out to tone their core.
One of the richest foods in antioxidants, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are packed with potent nutrients that protect the muscles from free radical damage that can be caused by exercise. As a general rule, the darker the berry, the higher the nutrient content. So pack a few in your shake before you hit the gym! All you need is a handful, and your body will thank you.
4 Important Steps Toward a Healthier Morning Routine! February 18 2016
Not a morning person? Most of us aren’t. However, like anything, we can train our bodies and minds to be anything we want them to be, so long as we’re dedicated. This includes forcing ourselves to be healthy, positive people in the mornings, not just after 3 coffees when the clock strikes noon. It’s just a matter of training ourselves into a routine that will set us up for an energized, healthy, and productive day ahead. Follow these 4 easy steps every morning and you will no doubt feel (and see) the difference throughout your entire day!
Ditch the Caffeine
I know, this is not exactly what you want to hear. That morning coffee has become an ingrained part of many of our rituals, almost like a drug that we feel we can’t function without. Well, the first few days will be hard. However, swapping your morning cup of joe for a glass of lemon water will have many more health benefits, and eventually have a similar energizing effect. The difference is, lemon water will leave your system hydrated and cleansed, where coffee leaves you dehydrated and artificially stimulated. To name a few health benefits of lemon juice, it boosts your immune system, purifies the blood, and flushes toxins from the body. Extended consumption will also make your skin look healthy and radiant. :)
Make time for Meditation
It may not seem like an important enough reason to miss out on that extra ten minutes of sleep, but making time to clear your mind and calm yourself before the hectic day ahead has proven to have positive effects on one’s stress level, mood and overall emotional balance throughout the day. You don’t have to be a meditation expert, or even dedicate a huge amount of time to it, just simply allot ten minutes or so to lie in a quiet room, focusing on your breathing and clearing your mind of stressful thoughts and worries. This will help you feel centered, and start the day calm and relaxed, so that you’re better equipped to face any curveballs or obstacles that might be thrown your way. For more guidance on meditation, check out a book called Meditation Made Easy.
Get your Blood Flowing
Not everyone has the stamina to attempt a full workout first thing in the morning, especially before a full day’s work. (Though this is the recommended time to exercise.) That being said, taking a few minutes each morning to stretch your muscles and get the blood flowing is hugely beneficial in raising energy levels and releasing tension. It will also increase blood flow so your brain functions better too! Try a few yoga poses, or jumping rope at home for ten minutes. Whatever your quick routine of choice, all it takes is a few minutes to wake up your system. As this isn’t a ton of exercise, we recommend that you try and fit in a proper visit to the gym or a workout class of your choice later that day.
Don’t Cut Corners with Breakfast.
Whether you’re a chronic breakfast skipper, or you tend to be lazy and hit the first fast food joint during your mad dash to the office, you’re not setting yourself up for success with these habits. Make it a priority to allot that 15 minutes to whip up a balanced, nutritious breakfast. After all, it’s the most important meal of the day! It gets your metabolism started and gives you the energy (and brain juice) you will need to have a productive morning. Smoothies are an awesome way to pack in a lot of nutrients with very little prep time. It also helps to pre-cut your fruit so that you can save time in the am. Remember to add protein, flax seeds, and other supplements if you’re substituting for a proper meal.
All in all, these steps combined should take you no more than 45 minutes to an hour every morning, and they are so worth getting up a bit earlier for!
Whether you and your partner have been talking about “getting fit” for a while, or your single bestie needs a little nudge out of her rut, what better way to show your love than with the gift of health and fitness for Valentine’s day?! (Maybe you can even get one for yourself, while you’re at it ;)). Here are a few awesome ideas to get your loved one motivated to make his or her health a priority, and have some fun in the process.
The class pass is a great way to access a large network of fitness studios, and try a variety of types of exercises. The class pass consists of classes like yoga, pilates, lagree, spinning, barre, kettle-bell training, and many other types of new-age exercise classes. This gift is great for an adventurous friend or someone who likes to mix it up and is thus hesitant to commit to one particular package. Purchase them their first month, and they’ll no doubt be hooked after that!
30 Day Yoga Challenge
Most studios will periodically host a 30 day challenge during which customers are challenged to practice for 30 consecutive days. Within these 30 days, students are challenged to try different poses each day, building in difficulty as they progress. This is an awesome gift for any yoga loving friend, but the challenge is appropriate for Yogi’s of all levels, beginners too!
Yoga or Meditation Retreat
Albeit a generous gift, this one is probably most appropriate for your romantic partner. (Or a really lucky best friend or parent!) What better way to unwind and connect with yourselves and each other than a relaxing, rejuvenating yoga retreat in a tropical paradise? These retreats are usually held in exotic and beautiful locations like Mexico and Costa-Rica.
Looking for a fun way to spice things up, and also get some exercise? Try salsa dancing! Grab a package for yourself and your partner, and try out this exotic, sensual style of dancing. You’ll work up a sweat, and build trust and coordination. Learning how to move together in harmony will no doubt transfer well to other areas of your relationship, too. ;)
Enter them in a Mini-Marathon.
This gift works well for your bestie, your partner, or even Mom and Dad! A mini-marathon is a fantastic way to work toward an attainable goal and get yourself in excellent shape through training. Most importantly, you don’t have to be an ultra-athlete to attempt a mini-marathon. This can be an intimidating endeavor, so entering yourself along with the recipient is a nice approach to this gift. Once you’ve finished, you’ll both gain a real sense of accomplishment, and will be in excellent physical shape! Hopefully, after feeling the positive effects of all that training, you’ll continue implementing these fitness habits in your daily lives thereafter.
We hope this gives you a few inspirational ideas for gifts this Valentine's day, why not offer something besides chocolate this year?
Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone with Your Fitness Routine January 21 2016
Plateauing by definition is “a force of nature that lessens the effectiveness of once effective measures over time. The plateau effect is a state that is experienced when the human body fails to respond to exercise that has proven effective in the past.” Have you plateaued physically and emotionally when it comes to your workout regimen? Whether we want to admit it or not, this eventually happens to all of us, which is why every so often it’s important to push ourselves out of our comfort zone. Try something new! What have you got to lose? No harm has ever come from gaining new experiences or trying new things. One might argue that you could dislike something or have a negative experience and regret trying, but these lessons learned should be looked at as self-knowledge gained. Now you know!
To give an example, if you’re a big weights buff, and you feel that you’ve hit your physical limit, maybe it’s time to start working some of the other areas of your body, like your core strength and balance. Unexpected forms of lower impact exercise like yoga and pilates that are often viewed by hardcore gym types as “softy sports” are actually really effective in strengthening the core, and building long, lean muscles. Even if this is a form of exercise you’d normally turn your nose up at, give it a try. You might just find you feel awesome after a few classes!
Here are a few popular forms of exercise classes available and their varying benefits. Why not try a few that you feel might suit your needs? Try to be open minded, and perhaps work on an area that you haven’t necessarily valued as much previously.
As mentioned, yoga is great for building core strength, flexibility, balance and posture, and is amazing for stretching and elongating the muscles. A few other benefits are that it really helps to get you in tune with your body, establishing a strong mind-body connection. It is known to help regulate breathing as well, thus having therapeutic and calming effects for those that practice regularly.
Pilates has similar benefits to yoga, but uses machinery in its more advanced forms and can (depending on the type of yoga you are practicing) be a bit more intensive. Pilates also engages both the mind and body, builds amazing core strength, stretches and elongates the muscles, and helps to build flexibility and good posture.
Are you feeling a bit bored with your gym routine, or like you just can’t seem to get rid of that spare tire around your hips? Zumba is an awesome way to spice things up a bit, and drop some L-B’s! Zumba is an fun, upbeat combo of dance and exercise that is a great way to blow of some steam or relieve some stress! So much so that you won’t even realize how much of a workout you’re getting until you’re ready to drop from exhaustion! The Benefits? This form of exercise will dramatically improve your cardiovascular system, coordination, and with regular practice you will see rapid weight loss. (The average person burns up to 1000 calories in just one class!) By moving to the rhythm of the music, your body naturally tenses and flexes muscles all over, making Zumba a great way to tone up as well.
Spinning is fantastic as it really gives you autonomy over your workout. You are in a controlled environment and able to increase and decrease resistance, build and lower your heart rate, and train in intervals with the help of a professional teacher. As such, in this form of exercise it would be very difficult to plateau because you are constantly changing your routine and challenging yourself! The results? Amazingly toned legs and buttocks, improved heart rate and endurance, and a feeling of accomplishment (and adrenaline) at the end of every class!
Kettle Bell Classes
For all you weight lifters that don’t want to stray too far from home, this is a great option for something a little different that’s still in your arena. Kettle Bell training is a more of a full body workout than basic weight lifting, combining cardio and strength training. It also consists of more fluid movements, which avoids the monotony of isolated repetitions and is great for building flexibility and toning several muscles at once. The unique combo of strength training and cardio increases your metabolism exponentially and builds muscle while burning fat, which makes this method ideal for weight loss as well. Why spend hours at the gym doing separate cardio, strength training and stretching when you can squeeze it all into one class?
Swimming & Aqua Sports
Aquatic exercise is awesome for those looking for a full body workout, with little to now impact. Water exercises are deceivingly easy due to buoyancy and lack of resistance, yet swimming is one of the only sports that works almost every muscle in the body, building cardio strength, core strength, endurance, flexibility and muscle strength all at the same time. Due to the lack of stress on your joints and bones, this is also one of the lowest risk forms of exercise for injury. With regular practice, swimming also improves circulation and reduces your blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Water sports are a great option particularly for rehabilitating athletes or for those who have been hard on their bones, joints or muscles and are looking to stay fit without doing too much further damage.
These are just a few examples of some of the amazing other options there are to try outside of your regular gym routine! Grab a schedule next time you’re at the gym, or just look online to discovery many others that may end up being your new favourite thing! Sayonara, comfort zone.
Shifting your Perspective and Improving Self- Confidence for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year. January 01 2016
It’s easy for things to pile up and seem overwhelming when we are feeling negative and have low self-esteem. Negative energy builds upon itself, I’m afraid, until things that to someone in a more positive place might seem insignificant, suddenly seem unbearable. This makes it harder and harder to focus on the positive aspects of your life, thus allowing negativity to overwhelm you. The trick is breaking this cycle by bringing a little positivity into your life. Here are a few ways to shift your perspective, build your self-esteem and lay the framework for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2016.
Let Go of Negativity and Focus on the Positives.
It’s time to “trim the fat” so to speak, and weed out any people, thoughts or energies that are having a negative influence on your life. We ourselves determine our worth by the treatment we accept from others. Value yourself! Accept nothing less than respect and dignity from those you choose to keep in your life. It’s easy to make excuses for the people that we love when they are behaving badly, especially if you suffer from low self-esteem. It often seems harder to let go of people than to put up with the disappointment they repeatedly cause us. Be strong, and be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, am I benefiting from this relationship? Is this person going to lift me higher and support me in my life and endeavors? If the answer is no, it’s time to let go. It may be hard at first, but in time you will be surprised at how okay you are without these people weighing you down.
When it comes to your perspective, try and count your blessings rather than your disadvantages or misfortunes. Remind yourself regularly of what you DO have, by writing down a list of what makes you happy and what you are grateful for in your life, whether it’s once a week or once a month.
Take Care in Your Presentation and Appearance.
It’s easy when you’re feeling low to just give up on your appearance. It starts to seem pointless to make an effort so we get lazy in our grooming process. It may seem superficial, but when you look good on the outside, you feel better on the inside. Put yourself together every day, even if you don’t feel like it. Looking your best will give you the confidence to face the day, and push you out the door with your best foot forward. Also, even if it feels like you can’t really afford it, don’t be afraid to splurge on yourself every once and a while. Buy that dress that makes you feel like a million bucks. Better yet, wear it out dancing with your best friends. It’s amazing how much a little laughter, dancing and perhaps innocent flirting can do for the self-esteem. Laughter is contagious, and so is happiness. Positive vibes attract positive people, simply put, but misery also loves company… so take your pick!
Travel Somewhere You’ve Always Dreamed of Going.
No more excuses, just go! You can’t put a price on this kind of experience. Travel has a wonderful way of clearing the mind and shifting your perspective, and you never know what life altering adventures or experiences awaits you outside your realm of normal. It’s time to burst your bubble, get out of your rut- whatever you want to call it. After a few weeks away, your “problems” will suddenly seem less troubling and unmanageable.
While travelling with friends is great, going it alone is really the best way to force yourself out of your comfort zone, and will no doubt build self-confidence as you rely on your own devices to navigate foreign lands and forge new friendships.
Stop Over-Analyzing and Stay Busy.
Now is the time to reinvest paranoid, negative energy spent worrying about other people into yourself and what makes YOU happy. Start thinking of your own needs first, make sure they are being met, and then worry about other people. Just make sure they’re the ones who worry about you, too! Focus your time and energy on making yourself happier, stronger, more successful- whatever you desire.
Busy up your schedule with things you find fulfilling, whether its work, hobbies, or social events. You’ll feel more positive and have much less time to over analyze and focus on the negative aspects of your life, or those unworthy of your thoughts. Find yourself a hobby that will better your mental and your physical health. Make it a priority and schedule it in if need be, just make sure you keep at it. Practice makes perfect, and being good at something you enjoy will naturally build confidence. When you’re confident in yourself and your abilities, it’s easier to drown out the negativity that once overwhelmed you.
We hope these tips will help you start 2016 on a positive note. Wishing you a very Happy New Year from the No Sweat team!
We’ve all undoubtedly made dozens of new year’s health and fitness resolutions, with a genuine intention of following through, yet they always seem to fall by the wayside after a couple of weeks. Sure, life gets busy, but sometimes we also set unrealistic standards and expectations for ourselves that actually become intimidating and set us up for failure. Here are a few general rules to follow when making your resolutions that will make your goals more attainable, and therefore make you more likely to stick to them!
Set Realistic Goals
If you set out to work out 7 days a week from a 1 or even 0 day a week schedule, you’re inevitably going to burn out quickly. It’s important to set goals that are realistic, and that won’t seem so overwhelming that you’re tempted to give up. It helps to set a plan in motion to increase your exercise regimen gradually, making it less intimidating and more motivating. Start with 2-3 days a week, go with this for a couple of weeks, then increase your limits. This applies to your exercises as well, start slow and build your strength and endurance by pushing your threshold gradually. Remember it’s not a race, it’s a marathon!
The same rules apply to your diet- don’t try to cut everything out at once. Ease your way in so you don’t end up in a starve and binge cycle where you limit yourself so much that you overindulge every time you allow yourself. This is hard on the body and not effective for weight loss. Sugar and carbohydrates are common groups that come up on the “elimination list,” just make sure to maintain a balanced diet and match your efforts with regular exercise. It’s all about building a healthy, maintainable lifestyle. Starving yourself will only cause low energy, and less productive workouts as a result. You need your fuel! Just make sure it’s the right kind.
Sign up for Programs in Advance
Because the fitness world has figured out that the first couple of months of the New Year is probably the biggest time for people to try to find their inner health and fitness buff, there are hundreds of programs available to help get you on track come January. Signing up for a program in advance is a great way to give yourself a little nudge to follow through on your resolutions. Once you start going regularly, you will find yourself part of a like-minded community and thus more inspired to follow through and chase your end goal.
If you enjoy yoga, sign up for the 30 day challenge at your local studio. There is almost always one happening in January! If you’re looking to build some muscle at the gym, sign up for a few sessions with a trainer there. They’ll get you on the right track, and feeling more confident to continue on your own thereafter. These kinds of programs also make amazing Christmas gifts! If you have a close friend or family member that you know is looking to make some improvements to their health in the New Year, grab them a fitness package. They’ll thank you for it now, and then again later!
Don’t Keep Your Resolutions a Secret
Sharing your goals and resolutions with friends or family will also help you stick to them. Saying them out loud makes them real, and signifies a deeper commitment. Plus, once you’ve brought your best pal or your mom in on your secret, they won’t likely let you give up easily either. It’s nice to have someone else nudge you once and a while too, especially if you’re starting to feel uninspired.
Track Your Results
Whether it’s at the end of each workout, or the end of each week, take a moment to track down what you’ve accomplished that week. This will depend on what your goal is- eating healthy, losing weight, toning up, etc. Track down any headway you’ve made towards your goal, or any lapses. This will help you keep track of your progress, and not let any cheating slip through the cracks!
Be Patient and Persistent
Visible results are never immediate, however, the way you feel physically after upping your exercise regimen and improving your diet will improve almost immediately. If the endorphins aren’t enough to keep you motivated, remember that all things worth having take time, commitment and effort. Remember why you set your goals in the first place, you will achieve them eventually! In the meantime, you will enjoy feeling a lot more energized, healthy, and positive.
We hope these few pointers will help you stick to your resolutions this year, and wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
If you are a runner or an athlete, you have no doubt felt the effects that high impact exercise can have on your joints, muscles and bones after a while. This is why athletes have been making a real movement toward lower impact forms of exercise such as body weight training, swimming, spinning, and even yoga. Sports are hard enough on their joints, they don’t need to be putting extra strain on them off the field, court, ice- whatever it may be. Us every day folk could take a page out of this book too. There are many different forms of low impact exercise that are quite effective and easier on the bod! These types of exercises help prevent injuries associated with traditional, high impact exercise and equipment, and is great for all ages and fitness levels. It can also be beneficial for rehabilitation purposes. Most importantly- despite popular belief, it produces visible results the same way that more traditional, heavy duty exercise does. So put down the bench press and try a different approach. Your joints and bones will thank you, and you’ll be surprised at the results you see!
Body Strength Training
It’s a common misconception that we have to push ourselves on strength building machines and lift heavy weights to build strength and muscle. It’s actually a much better workout to use your body weight and movement to build strength and muscle. Body strength training is a great combo of cardio and strength training, as opposed to weights which only target certain areas to build isolated strength. (Ex. Bicep curls, bench pressing, lat pull-downs, etc.) Another benefit is that because there is no machinery involved, you can transition more rapidly from one movement to another. Circuit training is a popular form of body strength training, which entails progressing through a series of movements such as lunges and knee lifts. This fluid range of motion not only helps with flexibility (allowing your joints to move more freely) but it builds core strength, helps with posture, back strength and endurance, and burns fat like crazy! You will also develop better balance through control and awareness of your body. The best part about this form of exercise is that there is lots of variety in the movements and exercises you can do. You can always switch it up which helps keep you motivated to push your boundaries and break plateaus. Oh, and it’s free and can be done anywhere, anytime… which leaves little room for excuses!
Swimming is often thought of as more of a leisure sport, when it actually works every muscle and offers quite an amazing full body workout! Because water is non-weight bearing, the workout often feels much easier as there is really no strain on the muscles. This is probably the lowest impact form of exercise, so it is particularly good for those already suffering from joint or bone issues, pregnant women, those in rehabilitation, or the elderly. However, it is an excellent alternative from anyone’s regular gym workout as it works both the upper and lower body all at once. Interestingly, as opposed to other forms of exercise, because those carrying a little extra weight tend to be more buoyant, this form of exercise will be less intense for the overweight and probably more intense for those with a lower BMI.
This is where all the runners live- it’s the same intense workout, without the heavy pounding feet on the pavement. Spinning has a lot of the same physical benefits of running- it increases endurance, strengthens legs, and ups your cardio fitness. The difference is that it is done in a controlled environment, and it is low impact and a whole lot easier on your muscles and joints. This form of exercise is great for anyone craving that high intensity workout, but not the achy knees and ankles. It is particularly beneficial for athletes training off season in helping them stay fit, while taking it easy on their bodies that will no doubt take a beating during the next season.
Love that heavy sweat you work up during a serious workout? Hot yoga is no joke, and no- it is not for sissies. While it’s not always the highest intensity workout, hot yoga is known for building incredible core strength and balance, and increasing flexibility and endurance. It also helps with toning and weight loss with regular practice. Being in a 90 plus degree hot room also helps you work up quite the lather, and sweating out all those toxins can be very cleansing and therapeutic! Another known benefit of yoga is that it has positive psychological effects, as it fosters a stronger mind-body connection. Yoga is also a low impact form of exercise that uses only bodyweight and movement to build strength and balance, and really stretches out the muscles. There are many different types of hot yoga, all at varying levels of intensity. (Bikram, Moksha, Vinyasa, the list goes on.) Be sure to check the class descriptions at your local hot studio to see which best suits your needs.
So, next time you hit the gym, will you think twice about picking up the barbells? Ask a trainer to show you some body strength training exercises, you won’t regret it when you’re old and nimble!
While we look forward to this festive time of year, filled with social events, seasonal cocktails and delicious hors d’oeuvres, the health conscious part of us also often dreads it; it’s kind of a love-hate relationship! The weight gain, the bloating and puffy eyes from lack of sleep and alcohol consumption- it all accompanies the fun times with friends and seasonal celebrations. Well, fear no more. There is no reason we can’t enjoy these festivities, and even indulge here and there, the trick is doing everything in moderation. Try these few simple tricks this season and you’re guaranteed to see (and feel) the difference!
Pick and Choose.
This applies to both the parties you attend as well as the treats you allow yourself. Don’t feel that you have to accept every single invitation you are extended. Pick and choose those that are important to you- close friends or family, important business colleagues, etc. By hand-picking a few, you will inevitably be on your game, more present and alert, and most importantly you will enjoy yourself more as you won’t be worn down from a long string of monotonous events and sleepless nights.
Like in an exercise regimen or diet plan, having a plan is key. Make a mental commitment to yourself before attending the party of how many drinks you will consume throughout the evening, how many hors d’oeuvres you are allowed to sample, and how late you will stay. This number will vary depending on what party it is (i.e. your best friends Christmas bash on Friday night vs. your boss’s elegant cocktail party on a Wednesday) how much you have eaten that day (is this dinner?) and so on. Be sure to consider how many parties you are attending that week also, and try to stay balanced.
Eat a proper lunch.
It is often said that we should “eat like a king for breakfast, a queen for lunch, and a peasant for dinner.” Calories consumed earlier in the day have more time to be burned off. Don’t starve yourself all day because you know you’re going to be eating tons of delicious treats and drinking lots at your party that evening. This is a dangerous mentality that can be detrimental to your ability to maintain your balance, as not only will you have little to no self-control and binge on the wrong things, but you will also get much more drunk if you don’t eat all day, resulting in an awful hangover the next day. Eat a generous, healthy lunch with lots of protein to keep you going for the rest of the day. This will give you a good base and keep you satisfied so you don’t make the wrong decisions later on (including being the drunkest person at the party)!
Eat a small healthy snack just before you leave.
Even if you’ve had a decent lunch and aren’t particularly hungry, force yourself to have a quick hit of protein and a veg before heading out to the party. (A couple of lean cold cuts and some cut up pepper or cucumber is a personal quick and easy favourite.) This type of snack is low in calories and will curb your appetite enough that you will be able to exercise self-discipline when hundreds of deliciously cheesy and breaded hors d’oeuvres are being paraded under your nose.
Apply the Rinse cycle
When there are trays of free cocktails being circulated every few minutes, it’s easy to lose track and forget to hydrate. It’s important that you make a point of chasing every drink with a glass of water. This is what we call “the rinse cycle.” The rinse cycle has several benefits, such as decreasing your level of intoxication, keeping you hydrated, and reducing hangovers. Don’t quit once you leave the party though, that full glass of water before bed is the most key part of kicking that looming hangover to the curb!
The Benefits of Walking- For the Non-Workout Buffs! October 21 2015
As you may have noticed, we talk a lot about living the “sweat life” and, being major sweat junkies ourselves, generally cater more to the fitness buffs in our blog topics. However, we do recognize that there are many people out there who don’t share the same affinity for the adrenaline rush of a good workout, or get the same therapeutic experience from strenuous exercise. Whichever category you fall into, it is important to understand the importance of basic exercise, and the body’s need for movement. You don’t have to kill yourself on the treadmill, but at a minimum you should be walking regularly to keep your joints and bones strong, your heart healthy, your muscles moving, and your energy level elevated.
Walking has many known benefits, both physical and mental. For instance, it’s gentle and easy on the joints, and therefore appropriate for people of all ages and fitness levels. (It’s especially useful for those with arthritis and the elderly.) Whether you’re a gymaholic or a gymophobe, here are four major benefits of regular walking that you just can’t ignore!
It’s great thinking time.
Another major benefit of walking is that it’s less strenuous than other forms of exercise, and therefore requires less attention, allowing us to focus on internal issues. Walking gives you a chance to think; it’s a time to solve problems, hatch brilliant ideas, think about your loved ones and relationships, and generally pay more attention to life. Unlike driving, walking really allows you to be in the moment and be more engaged with the outdoors and the world around you.
It Improves brain function and reduces stress.
Walking, particularly outdoors, is a great way to clear the head. It rejuvenates and refreshes you, and provides an opportunity to sort through your thoughts and deal with any anxieties you may be having. Walking lowers cortisol levels, reducing stress, and also improves circulation which allows more oxygen into the blood stream. This improves your focus, energy level, mood and overall productivity. If you’re starting to feel burnt out after sitting at your desk for a while, taking a quick walk is a great way to get your creative juices flowing!
It boosts the immune system and strengthens the heart and bones.
Regular walking has been proven to increase overall health on a long term basis. Particularly when done outside, walking allows us to soak up lots of vitamin D that can be difficult to get through food. Vitamin D is essential for good bone health and boosts the immune system. Frequent walking also maintains healthy joints and keeps the bones and heart strong, preventing heart disease and osteoporosis.
It keeps you toned.
Though walking won’t have the same impact on your physical appearance as more intensive exercises like running or lifting weights, walking briskly on a regular basis will keep your metabolism working help you burn more calories, which is helpful in maintaining your weight. Power walking will also keep your legs and bum toned, and if you walk fast enough that you are using your arms for momentum, you may even notice more definition there, too!
The best part about walking is that it really doesn’t take more than 15-30 minutes a day, but the more you walk the better! It’s all about finding opportunities. Opt for the stairs instead of the escalator, every time. Take a brisk stroll on your lunch break, or skip the subway and take the scenic route to work in the morning on foot. Your body (and mind) will thank you! What is your favourite time of day to get your walk on?
It’s so common when travelling to let all of your usual inhibitions and good habits go, and let the “vacation” mentality take over. If you’re someone who travels quite frequently, for work or otherwise, this “vacation mentality” can easily turn into your everyday regime if you’re not careful! There are ways to avoid this, it just takes a little mindfulness, and some preparation.
Just because you’re outside of your regular routine doesn’t mean you have an excuse to go for the junkiest item on the menu. It’s important to give yourself a little kick every time you are inclined to indulge, whether it’s at the airport or that fancy patisserie in the base of your hotel. Ask yourself before every meal- would I order this at home? If the answer is yes, then go for it. The goal isn’t to restrict yourself, only maintain your regular diet and habits to avoid weight fluctuations or falling under the weather due to a drastic change in your dietary régime.
Hydration is key always, but especially while travelling. Being on an airplane or stressfully racing through a busy airport is a draining and dehydrating experience. Being in a new city will also likely involve a lot of walking and a jam packed day of activities, and let’s face it hydration is often an afterthought. It’s important to compensate for all this extra movement with lots of water. Staying hydrated will keep you alert, looking fresh, and has also been proven to curb an appetite. Half the time we feel like snacking we are actually confusing our body’s response to dehydration with hunger!
Pack your Vitamins!
There’s no easier way to catch a cold or flu than to sit on a crowded airplane full of people from all walks of life, sharing re-circulated air for an entire flight. Yuck, I know. Kind of unavoidable though. The only answer is to equip yourself as much as possible by taking immune boosting vitamins and supplements before (and after) your flight. Echinacea is a wonderful herbal supplement that can be hugely helpful in preventing sickness. Vitamin C is an obvious second. Also, don’t neglect any other supplements you take on a regular basis. Make sure to pack them all for your trip! It may seem like extra weight, but especially if you are travelling frequently, falling off your vitamin schedule will only make your chances of crashing that much greater. It’s important to keep our bodies on a regular routine with vitamins, maintaining their levels on a daily basis for optimum health and performance. Travelling usually means foreign germs and less sleep, so vitamins are a huge saving grace in helping your body keep up.
Book a Hotel with a Gym.
As with your eating habits, it’s equally important to keep up your fitness regimen as much as possible while on the road. It’s all about maintenance. If you’re on a trip for pleasure, and doing a ton and walking and shopping, this will naturally compensate for the half hour or so you spend on the treadmill at home. However, if you’re spending your week with your butt in a chair at a conference, make sure to book a hotel with an accessible gym. This way there will be no excuse not to take a short half hour out of your morning, head down the elevator and sneak a quick sweat in.
Pack Healthy Snacks.
Before you head out to your hectic day in an exciting new city, wherever it may lead you, make sure to toss a healthy snack into your purse. Bring a pack of individually packaged almonds, or some protein filled granola bars. Having these handy will make the “don’t indulge” factor a whole lot easier. It’s a lot harder to say no to the baked ziti when you “didn’t have time” to eat all day. Keep your blood sugar levels stable by snacking regularly, and you’ll find it a lot easier to make healthy choices when you finally see a real meal.
Do you have any more tricks for keeping up your health routine on the road? We’d love to hear your input!
Morning Workouts- Early Bird Gets the Worm. September 24 2015
As a non-morning person, I have traditionally struggled to find the motivation to leap out of bed and get my disoriented, grumpy self to the gym. The snooze button and I have become close friends, despite my better attempts to pretend it doesn’t exist. After giving it a chance, however, I’ve started to see the benefits of getting my exercise in at the beginning of my day, as opposed to near the end. Here are the top 6 reasons that starting my day with a workout has officially turned me into a morning person!
It starts your day on a positive note.
Starting your day with exercise gives you a sense of accomplishment that you will carry with you throughout the day. Beginning on a healthy tip inspires you to keep this momentum throughout your day, swaying you toward the salad bar on your lunch break, or giving you a little extra nudge toward taking the stairs over the crowded escalator.
It elevates your mood and productivity.
As Elle Woods in Legally Blonde so eloquently put it- “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy! Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” Regular exercise has been scientifically proven to have a positive impact on our overall mood and stress levels. Starting your day with exercise will release endorphins, improving your mood throughout the day. Naturally, starting the day energized and alert with a positive mindset will increase your productivity.
It boosts your metabolism.
Often, for those of us too sluggish to give up that extra hour of sleep in the morning to get our bodies moving, our digestive systems tend to be a bit more sluggish. I often didn’t feel an appetite in the morning, and would end up skipping this essential meal and waiting for lunch. Getting your body moving first thing is a great way to work up your appetite for the day’s most important meal. Exercise boosts metabolism, so by getting it in earlier on, you will burn more calories throughout the day. (Especially high cardio or interval training exercises.) Eating a healthy breakfast is also key in getting your digestive system moving and kick-starting your metabolism for the day.
It’s the best time to build muscle.
Our hormones are elevated first thing in the morning, and drop progressively throughout the day. Testosterone, for example, is at its peak level in the morning, and is an essential hormone in building muscle. (Hello, abs!) With proper sleep, the morning is also when our bodies have the most energy and thus the most potential for a productive workout. Also, sweating regularly is great for the skin. Who needs makeup with that post workout glow?
It’s just you and your thoughts... and maybe a few others.
The gym in the morning is a far different vibe than it is after work hours. The snarling guy waiting to use your machine, the girl hogging the mat- these un-pleasantries are far less likely to be an issue in the wee hours of the day. The morning shift at the gym is a much more peaceful, serene experience. You will find yourself far less distracted or intimidated, and have a chance to really escape and experience the therapeutic aspect of exercise. Even if you’re not a gym rat and you prefer to jog outdoors or hit an early yoga class, these spaces will also likely feel much more calm and private earlier on in the day.
It improves your family & social life.
Getting your workout out of the way first thing in the morning is a great way to make sure it actually happens! There are so many distractions that can arise throughout the day- a last minute work assignment, a friend’s get together, a sick child, etc. Hitting the gym before you start your day checks off that box, leaving more flexibility for other priorities throughout your day, such as spending quality time with family and friends.
So before you turn your nose up at the early morning keeners and hit that snooze button, give the morning workout a shot. It might take you a little while to adjust to the new routine, but once you start feeling the positive impact it has on your life, you won’t regret it!
The Do's and Don'ts of Prenatal Exercise! September 16 2015
Hey active lady, is your pregnancy making you feel nervous about exercising? Well fear no more! While it’s important to change your exercise regimen slightly, avoiding high impact activities like gymnastics or dance, there are several types of classes and exercises that are not only safe during pregnancy, but beneficial to your changing body. For the longest time, doctors were advising pregnant women to take it as easy as possible during pregnancy. They were seen as these fragile creatures who could miscarry at the slightest strain. Well this is oh so false. Being inactive during pregnancy has actually been linked to excessive weight gain and a reduction in strength and flexibility which, let me tell you, is not helpful during labour. A little weight gain is to be expected, so all you fitness buffs- let it happen. Embrace your changing body, nourish it, and exercise regularly so you feel better about yourself physically and emotionally. Below are a few safe and reliable forms of exercise to try out during your pregnancy.
One main factor to remember when looking for new types of exercise during your pregnancy is that your center of gravity will shift. It’s important to partake in activities that don’t require a lot of impact, (such as jumping) or balance (such as gymnastics, trampoline, fast paced forms of dance, etc.). There are lower impact dance classes, like Barre, for instance, that can be a safe alternative. Barre is great because you’ve got something to hold on to, which reduces your risk of falling. Just try and sit out the big turns and jumps if you can, as your balance won’t be what it used to for a while.
YOGA & PILATES
Yoga is certainly the most popular and probably one of the most holistically beneficial forms of exercise to practice during pregnancy. With its focus on stretching the body, strengthening the core, and relaxing the mind, yoga is amazing for preparing the body and mind for childbirth. It’s a great way to stay calm and deal with any anxieties or stresses you may be feeling about your pregnancy or anything else. It also trains you to control your breathing as you learn to synchronize it with your movements, which is a huge asset in labour. A stress-free pregnancy is a healthy pregnancy!
Similarly to yoga, Pilates focuses on elongating the muscles and strengthening the core. As long as you don’t strain yourself by pushing your body beyond your limits, it is also a safe form of exercise during pregnancy. As in any exercise, it is important to take certain precautions when practicing yoga or pilates. For instance, as you progress to the second and third trimester, avoid inversions and positions that involve lying on your back. This can put extra pressure on your blood vessels and cause your blood pressure to drop. Most importantly- don’t do hot yoga! Extreme overheating and dehydration can have negative effects not only on you but the fetus as well, and can contribute to premature labour.
Swimming is a perfect form of exercise for pregnant women, and probably the safest as it’s literally zero impact! There’s no risk of injury, and the buoyancy of the water also makes you feel lighter and thus the exercises less straining, even though you are working several muscles and burning a ton of calories. Aside from just swimming laps for cardio, there are a ton of aqua aerobics classes you can take to build strength and endurance in the water.
Spinning can be a great way to get some exercise while pregnant, as it requires no impact and allows you to have complete control over the level of intensity to which you push yourself. As in any form of exercise, it is important to avoid overheating and dehydration, and to listen to your body and be aware of signs of over exertion like dizziness or a rapid heartbeat.
Basically, don’t shy away from exercising during your pregnancy. As long as you are in tune with your body and take the necessary precautions, exercise is a necessary factor in ensuring a healthy pregnancy and a smooth childbirth. It also has positive effects on your mental well-being, reducing stress and anxiety. Keeping your health and fitness at a normal level during your pregnancy will increase your strength during labour, and will also make it an easier transition to your pre-baby self after giving birth!
Routine and Consistency- the Secret behind Health & Wealth August 24 2015
We have all felt the positive effects of a good week of routine- that feeling of accomplishment. Yet, we seem to fall off of it so easily. Somehow when a task or goal is put down on paper or into your calendar it becomes much more of a priority, whether you’re super task oriented or not. No one likes to feel that they’re neglecting their responsibilities, so if they’re written down in front of us we’re more likely to get them done. After a while, this routine starts to feel like second nature to us. Basically, by creating a daily routine for ourselves, we naturally become more motivated and task driven, and we’re more likely not to be swayed by tempting distractions if we’re dedicated to a routine. Creating a daily schedule for yourself can help improve your productivity in every area of your life.
Incorporating fitness into your daily routine is key, even if you’re not a huge workout buff. Maintaining a decent level of physical activity on a daily basis is essential not only for our long term health, but for our mental well-being and stimulation as well. Sitting behind a desk and being inactive all day can start to take its toll. Those who make time in their day for physical exercise tend to be more energetic, positive and productive. Make sure to jot this one down in your schedule. It doesn’t matter when or what you do, just make sure to be active at least once a day!
Routine forces you to manage your time as it takes planning. To create a routine, we are forced to sit down, consider our tasks the following day/week, and how we can fit these in with our other personal daily functions (such as the gym, meals, social and family events, etc.) After a while, you will have expert time management skills, and will benefit from this in other areas such as your work life or planning out your kids millions of sports practices and school events!
Eating & Sleeping
This area is so underrated. People totally underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep and a regular meal schedule. Sleep (or lack thereof) is directly linked to our mental function and our general productivity. Without a routine, we tend to let our bedtime creep later and later until we find ourselves trying to function on 4 or 5 hours sleep for an entire day at the office. Not only will you feel like crap, your work will suffer. Just get those 7 to 8 hours! Set a bed time and stick to it. That simple.
In terms of eating, so many people wait until they are starving before eating a meal. This is a huge mistake. You should constantly be grazing on small snacks to keep your blood sugar levels stable and your mind alert. There’s a reason they call it brain food! Setting a meal time for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as snack times can be helpful in staying regular. If you want to go the extra mile, plan out what you’ll eat for each meal, too! (This will also help you stick to healthier options and resist temptation.)
Routine for Kids
This is probably the most important area to stress. Creating a consistency for children, particularly around meal and bed times, is essential for their mental development and overall well-being. The younger years are the biggest learning years, they are essentially little sponges soaking up all the information they come across! It is crucial that we set them up for success by providing structure, regular meals and sleep schedules so that they can focus on learning and growing into the strong young adults we want them to be. Following a routine from a young age will also help them develop a good work ethic and a healthier, more balanced lifestyle as they grow up.
Take the time to create a daily schedule for yourself. Write it down each night or at the beginning of the week to start out. Before you know it, you’ll be living and breathing your routine without a second thought, and living a much fuller, healthier and more productive life!
The Importance of Setting Goals July 27 2015
When talking about setting goals, it all really comes down to one main factor- motivation. With anything in life, it is human nature to let things slip or push them off if we don't have any real boundaries, structure, or targets to reach. Setting goals may seem simple, but this process is an essential factor in our success and productivity in all areas. Whether it's forcing ourselves to make it to the gym three times a week, stick to a healthy meal plan, or setting goals for our kids, it is crucial to put these targets in place for ourselves to make it easier to maintain momentum and motivation. An easy way to make sure you stay on top of this is to set aside an hour for yourself every Sunday to write out a list of weekly goals. Try to include one that relates to each compartment of your life, for instance one pertaining to health and fitness, one pertaining to parenting, one for your relationship(s), and of course those pertaining to your career or personal achievements.
Many people don't consider setting goals to do with parenting, but this is an area that we can really let slip if we don't set guidelines and PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! Try making a goal for each week that you yourself have to achieve, for instance "Do 3 different activities with the kids" as well as one for the kids, ex. "Help with the dishes every night" or "Get an A on an assignment." Implementing a star/sticker program can be a great incentive for kids to meet these goals as well. Create a board with each child's name on it, and place a sticker underneath for each achievement attained, working towards a grand prize after a certain number of goals have been met. It's great to train children to become achievement oriented from a young age, as it will set lifelong habits that will translate into a good work ethic later on. (Plus, you'll get a heck of a lot of chores done around the house!)
In Fitness & Nutrition:
This is also an area where it's definitely necessary to set some goals. We are all busy and life does get in the way. Sometimes it's just quicker to grab that cookie and latte on the fly instead of the egg-white omelette you'd planned to prepare for breakfast. Or to skip the gym because something more fun came up. Setting a weekly goal will help you focus and make sure you don't let yourself slip in this area. After all, our health is our most valuable and important possession, without which we could not succeed in all other areas of our lives. A meal plan is a great way to ensure that you stick to a healthy diet (at least most of the time, we're all human!) In your Sunday list of goals, include a weekly plan for at least 2 meals a day. If you work, packing a lunch is a great alternative to the tempting crap that the food courts offer. Once you are hungry, it's hard to use good judgement! Do a weekly grocery shop to ensure you have most of the necessary ingredients to make most of the meals on the plan. This will also create ann incentive to stick to it, as you've already committed. Just make sure to keep things interesting, giving yourself lots of (healthy) variety. For fitness, set some weekly goals that are realistic and attainable. If you like hot yoga, try to attend three classes that week. If you're a gym bunny, set a goal for number of visits to the treadmill.
With the busy hum drum of every day life, especially with young kids in your mix, relationships often start to take the back burner. Whether it's your marriage or even your relationship with your best pal, it's important to set a weekly reminder to pay attention to these important relationships so that you don't wake up one day and realize you barely know each other anymore. I find it helpful to designate one night a week for "date night" and another evening or lunch hour for seeing a friend (better yet, a group of friends so you can squeeze a few in at once!)
So take the time each week to put some targets in place. You'll feel great meeting them, and your life will inevitably be more fulfilled and successful as a result!
This subject may feel somewhat tired at this point, but I am glad to see the media beginning to focus more on the saturation of dieting and weight loss incentives and their negative impact on young children, particularly girls. With growing access to technology and various media outlets, children are being bombarded with messages about “losing weight fast” and seeing headlines like “get thin in just a week” on a daily basis. They are also being shown images of “the ideal body” that have been edited and manipulated, creating an unrealistic (and unhealthy) idea of what “normal” should look like. This is so common that they are growing up with the mentality that they should constantly be trying to lose weight, to be thinner, no matter their size or weight. Weight loss has gone from being a health requirement for the obese, to a common goal of the majority of the population, at least in Western society. It’s almost like a competition, who is the thinnest? Who has lost the most weight in the shortest amount of time? Exercise has become only about losing weight, as opposed to building strength, energy and endurance.
These negative messages impact all people, but children are the ones in the most danger as their bodies are still growing and developing and need proper nutrition to do so. They are also extremely impressionable, and are developing their habits and mentality towards their health and bodies that they will carry with them throughout their lives. Creating a positive body image in young people isn’t just about telling them that they are beautiful no matter what shape or size they are. Though this is important, there is more to it. Instilling a healthy body image entails focusing on the important factors, like health, nutrition and balance. There is a fine line between making sure they are conscious of their health and making good decisions when it comes to eating and staying active, and over focusing on these areas.
The best way to ensure that your kids maintain a healthy mentality toward eating and fitness is not to over- focus. Lead by example and provide them with healthy, balanced meals from an early age. Get them accustomed to eating this way without harping too much on the importance of it. This being said, don’t completely deny them of treats. This will only come back to haunt them later as they will likely have self-control issues when they are no longer restricted from these “forbidden fruits”. It’s all about balance and lifestyle. Treats are treats…simple as that. In terms of fitness, try to provide an active lifestyle for them. Don’t focus on the results of fitness, but the importance of staying active and involved in extra-curricular activities. Sports are a great way to keep them active, as they are social, fun and team based which builds trust and companionship. Companionship is a really key factor in my opinion. It’s healthy to have a little competition between peers, but competing with oneself can become obsessive and self-destructive, particularly when it comes to weight loss goals.
Long story short- sign your kids up for lots of activities! Encourage them to find an active sport that they love. Keep them well fed with a healthy attitude toward nutrition, and too busy to over-focus on things like being super thin or losing weight. If they remain healthy and happy, the physical results will come naturally.
- Page 1 of 2